Probably one of your first
interactions with Germans will be at the dinner table. Eating
out in Germany is quite a treat, with a variety of international and
local foods to choose from.
Most establishments are mom & pop type restaurants that serve fresh,
delicious food. Do not expect to find many chain restaurants in
Germany--but part of the fun in eating out in Germany is finding
something different on the menu!
Choosing a restaurant to match your taste and price range is easy,
since German custom dictates that each restaurant's menu be posted at
TAKE YOUR TIME
Take your time when eating whether you dine at a restaurant or simply
stop by a local cafe. The fast food psychology, where patrons
are rushed out of their seats as soon as they are finished, does not
exist in Germany or Europe. This fat becomes obvious after your
meal when you must practically tackle your waiter to pay your bill.
It is important to know that there is normally a 15% service
charge and a 16% Value Added Tax already added to your bill. An
extra tip is not necessary. However, most people round off the
bill to the next higher Euro, or if service is extra special, they add
a little more. Checks are paid at the table and the tip is paid
to the waiter, not left on the table.
In German, the word "restaurant" is pronounced with the accent on the
last syllable. Gasthaus, Gasthof, and Gaststatte
also mean restaurant.
Restaurants are not restricted to the hours that normal shops are
allowed to be open, but do not expect to be able to get a meal at odd
times of the day. Establishments usually only serve meals during
actual mealtimes (generally 11:30am-2am lunch, 6pm-9pm dinner).
Most restaurants close between 2pm and 6pm. Also, most
restaurants have a Ruhetag, or a day of rest when they are not
It is customary for Germans who do not know one another to sit at
the same table. If there are free seats at a table and there is
no other table empty, do not hesitate to join the occupants of that
table. However, you should always ask if the seat is "frei" or
free before sitting down.
Make sure you keep an eye out for tables marked with Stammtish.
This is a table reserved only for regular customers who gather on
certain days of the week to talk, play cards, or hold meetings.
Stammtisch tables stand out by their unique size or shape, special
lamps, or location in an isolated area.
Germans love their dogs. In fact, Germany is one of the best
countries to have a dog because you can bring your dog just about
anywhere--restaurants, supermarkets, even shopping malls. You
will also notice, however, that German dogs are extremely well
behaved, so don't attempt to take your dog out to a restaurant unless
he or she is well trained.
If you would like a glass of water with your meal, you will have
to ask for it, but don't be surprised if you are not served ice water.
Germans don't use much ice and you will usually have to specify that
you want tap water or water without gas (Germans call it "still
water") because if you simply ask for water, you will be served
carbonated mineral water. Water and soft drinks in Germany will
cost as much or more than beer. Milk is not customary with meals
and may not be available.
FAST FOOD CONDIMENTS
You will be charged for packets of ketchup and other condiments.
Mayonnaise is very popular on fries and ketchup may taste slightly